Combating Hunger, Creating Opportunity

DC Central Kitchen is America's leader in reducing hunger with recycled food, training unemployed adults for culinary careers, serving healthy school meals, and rebuilding urban food systems through social enterprise.
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Posts by Paul Day


Home Cooking vs. Hunger Week: Let’s Talk Live Videos

, June 20th, 2014

Check out our staff on Let’s Talk Live this week, featuring our efforts to fight hunger and promote healthy eating. We’re excited to be part of this Home Cooking vs. Hunger Week. A huge thanks to Walmart and NewsChannel 8 for promoting our work.



Cluck The Truck Raises $30k for DCCK

, June 19th, 2014
Cluck The Truck

Our staff with Buddy, Tyson’s mascot. Hundreds of people attended the Cluck The Truck festivities at the Ronald Reagan Building’s Woodrow Wilson Plaza.

We did it! Our donors mobilized on June 19th to support Cluck The Truck, our summer campaign to acquire the chicken we need for our meal programs. We are very grateful for all of the support, and because of YOU, we exceeded our $30,000 goal  and can now buy enough chicken for a whole year! A special thanks to Tyson Foods for their sponsorship of this campaign and the Ronald Reagan Building, TCMA, and Aria Pizzeria for hosting our live event at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza.



The Many Contributions of Volunteer Groups

, June 12th, 2014
Boston Consulting Group Volunteers

Boston Consulting Group is just one of the recent corporate volunteer groups to serve at DC Central Kitchen.

DC Central Kitchen depends on volunteers to produce 10,000 meals every day – and a large percentage of our volunteers include corporate, school, church, and service groups that are looking to engage more directly with our work.

Pertula George-Redd is DC Central Kitchen’s Volunteer Program Manager, and she’s leading the way to make the volunteer experience memorable and rewarding for the over 15,000 volunteers that stop by every year. Pertula says the volunteer groups that stop by feel inspired and want to know how they can stay involved.

I typically hear that they had a great time working with staff and felt that they accomplished a lot in a short time.  They’ve also mentioned that they’re impressed with our operation—that we do so much and that we run a tight ship.  Volunteers send kudos to kitchen staff all the time.
- Pertula George-Redd, Volunteer Program Manager

Pertula frequently hears from the kitchen staff how much they enjoy and appreciate working with volunteers. They say there is “something special and unique about working in the Kitchen”. Staff get to work side by side with individuals and groups of all backgrounds and from all over the country and world – students, business people, government officials, diplomats, church groups, sports groups etc. The diversity of people and stories makes the experience uplifting, memorable, and inspirational.

I’ve seen volunteers and staff interact without bias or prejudice toward each other.  Volunteers tend to be most animated during and after the volunteer shift – they have deep conversations with staff, joke around with them and some have even sang songs to the staff as well as sent them touching thank you notes.
- Pertula

The interactions between our kitchen staff, most who are graduates of our Culinary Job Training Program, and volunteers is something we call the “calculated epiphany”. The goal is to challenge common stereotypes about poverty and homelessness so they can take back stories of hope and change to their communities and support our model of empowerment wherever they live.

In addition to getting our meals out the door, volunteers also help us glean produce from local farms and provide crucial assistance on special projects. Recently, volunteers have assisted us with database management, calling and thanking donors, writing stories, and providing support at fundraising events. Last year, volunteers saved DC Central Kitchen a total of $612,000 in payroll expenses.

Besides the fact that volunteers make most of our work possible, we’re touched and very proud that they enjoy the experience and are willing to share their inspirational stories. Do you have an outstanding story about volunteering at DCCK? Please share it with us! Use this form to share your experience.

And if you haven’t volunteered at DC Central Kitchen, come on down! We have opportunities for groups and individuals 7 days a week – and many shifts to accommodate your busy schedule. Visit our volunteer page today for details.



DC Central Kitchen Featured on “Inside School Food”

, June 2nd, 2014
Inside School Food

DCCK’s Ed Kwitowski and Katie Nash represented the School Food Program on “Inside School Food”

DC Central Kitchen’s Healthy School Food Program was recently featured on radio show, Inside School Food, representing our work to transform childhood nutrition at DC schools and what it means for the broader community. We’re excited about this opportunity to talk in-depth about the program.

Here’s a description from the Heritage Radio Network’s Website:

This week’s episode of Inside School Food is the first installment of a series of episodes we’re calling “And Now for Something Completely Different,” in which we profile programs and business models that upend common assumptions about what’s possible in school food. In the schools served by not-for-profit DC Central Kitchen, children formerly accustomed to pizza and breaded chicken fingers eagerly chow down on house-made fresh food that routinely includes beets, cauliflower, and collards. The skilled staff who prepare it are people who have emerged from stressful life circumstances with the help of DCCK culinary job training. For DCCK, good school food is not an end in itself, but a cornerstone to a larger, community agenda.”

Click here to visit the page and listen to the program.



Pestaurant Benefits DC Central Kitchen

, May 30th, 2014

10309479_10152153931648873_8973264997367968668_nWe’re bugging you to visit Pestaurant on Pennsy, an extraordinary event celebrating Ehrlich’s 86th Anniversary and supporting DCCK! Ehrlich will donate $5 for every person who eats one of the pests or $25 for every person who participates in a cricket eating contest. Remember to stop by next week!

The aim of Pestaurant will be to educate the public about pests while celebrating Ehrlich’s rich heritage in pest control – more than eight decades of helping to keep the region pest free. There are 79 Ehrlich technicians with more than 550 years combined experience in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The experts from your local Washington, DC branch will be on hand to offer valuable advice and top tips on how to avoid a pest infestation in your home or business and answer any of your pest-related concerns.

They will be serving up an exotic cuisine, including a wide range of edible insects like crickets, meal worms and other savory delights.



Healthy Corners Doubling Number of Stores This Summer

, May 30th, 2014
Healthy Corners

DCCK has partnered with Zenful Bites to conduct outreach events at each new store opening.

The DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) is providing DC Central Kitchen with a $250,000 grant to double the number of stores participating in Healthy Corners. Healthy Corners is the first program of its kind aimed at combating food deserts and making healthier food more available in DC’s low income communities. Since 2011, DC Central Kitchen has partnered with 33 corner stores to provide fresh produce and healthy snacks at the stores, which are often the closest affordable grocery option. With the DSLBD grant, DC Central Kitchen will expand the program to 63 stores this summer.

The grant will help DC Central Kitchen continue its important work of providing the District’s underserved communities with healthy food. DC Central Kitchen has been instrumental in leveraging their resources to provide valuable services to vulnerable populations, and we are very grateful for their work. - Robert Summers, Director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development.

The agency’s partnership with DC Central Kitchen began two years ago when they funded the initial rollout of the program through a six-month pilot period. The program has since worked with many partners, including DC Department of Health, CoBANK, Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, NBC Universal, Tavis Smiley-UMD, Wallace Genetic Foundation and the McGuinn Family Foundation. By providing strategic marketing support and heavily discounted product, Healthy Corners has brought DC’s corner stores into the healthy food business. In 2013, the participating stores grossed over $40,000 in sales and sold over 7,500 nutritious snacks.

Today represents a proven approach to public-private partnerships in D.C. Thanks to the Department of Small and Local Business Development, we now have the resources to expand into new neighborhoods, making healthy food more affordable and accessible to District residents. – Michael F. Curtin, Jr., CEO, DC Central Kitchen

Visit our Healthy Corners page for more information about the program.